The molé class I took at the Astor Center taught us several molés. Dark brown with chocolate and peppers, a sunnier tomato-based molé with chicken and almonds, a tangy, fishy one with dried shrimp. But the one that piqued my interest most, that I decided to make for my Mexican-themed dinner party, was a little thing called pipian.
It started with tomatillos:
If you haven't dealt with these (like my cashier at Whole Foods, who asked what they were), don't worry, it's not hard. You just need to take off the outer husk (not edible) and rinse what's left (it'll be sticky). Which leaves this:
It looks like a tomato on the outside, but not on the inside. No need to seed or anything. You just chunk 'em up and throw them in the food processor with onion, cilantro, peppers, and... oh wait, I just realized the recipe I have for pipian isn't online. Well, it's more or less like this one from Epicurious. A lot of pipian recipes seem to have peanuts, but the one we learned at Astor doesn't, so of course I'm sticking with the one I know best.
Then you make a paste of ground pumpkinseeds and cook it with oil, dump this on top, simmer for a little while, and you're good to go. I heated up some shrimp separately and poured the sauce on top, but you could also cook them in the sauce. (Mine still had shells on, so that was no-go.) And the sauce works with pork, chicken, you name it. For vegetarians I'd even throw in some white beans and serve it over rice, maybe in a corn tortilla, as a meal.
How did it turn out? (Sorry for the lack of pictures... that tends to happen at dinner parties. We're lucky I even got a snap of the finished chiles en nogada, seriously.) It was very tasty. Not at all hot, even with the jalapenos, so maybe it could be tweaked with a couple extra peppers for those who like the heat.
So with the shrimp in pipian, chiles en nogada, and some rice cooked in chicken broth and a puree of tomatoes/onion/garlic, there was only one more thing I needed to make my Mexican meal complete.
Okay, yeah, I hear you: gougeres are super, super not Mexican.
One more time. The last time this week, I promise. Tune in tomorrow!